By Ram Puniyani
In the worst ever communal carnage of this century, the post Godhra Gujarat violence, over 2000 innocents lost their lives. Most of the survivors not only lost their livelihood and shelter but also have been degraded to the status of second class citizens. Most of the perpetrators of violence, have not only gone scot-free; many of them had an upward political mobility. The efforts of the victims and human rights activists had yielded very few results and majority of the victims are grieving and living with the scars of their losses. In the whole process, the direction of Apex court to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the role of Modi, his cabinet colleagues and other top functionaries of state and those involved in violence, has come as a sigh of hope. The court gave the direction (April 27, 2002) in response to appeal by Jakia Ahsan Jafri, the widow of slain Congress MP, Ahsan Jafri. One complements the courage and doggedness of Jakia Jafri for all her efforts.
This comes in the backdrop of the arrest of Maya Kodnani, Modi?s cabinet colleague who instigated and led the carnage in Naroda Patia. Just to recall, Ahsan Jafri ex Congress MP had made frantic calls to all those concerned but the police help was not forthcoming to save him from the mob assembled by the VHP-Bajrang Dal and others, the lead players in Gujarat carnage. So far the official inquiry committees have not pointed its finger on the role of Modi, while the Human Rights Commission report (2002) pointed out that state machinery failed to protect the innocent people. Most of the citizen?s inquiry committees by human rights activists have pointed out about the role of state administration and Modi in particular in the violence. In the major such report of ?Citizens tribunal? headed by retired Justice Krishna Ayer and Justice P.B.Sawant, (Crime against Humanity), a Minister in Modi?s Government Haren Pandya gave description of the meeting which Modi had called on the evening of Godhra train accident. As per Pandya Modi instructed all the top state officials to let the Hindu anger not be curtailed in the aftermath of Godhra. Modi popularized the thesis that Godhra train was burnt in a pre planned manner by the international terrorism, in collusion with the ISI and local Muslims. Infamously, he announced that every action has an opposite reaction, meaning that now Hindus will take revenge and state should sit back and let the opposite reaction take its course.
Same Harem Pandya was murdered later and his father stated that his murder had taken place on the instance of Modi. While the carnage was on, the Central government, NDA led by BJP, kept watching and barring some stray noises by PM Vajpayee and Home Minister Advani, the carnage went on spilling the rivers of blood. Despite Modi?s claim that he controlled the violence in 72 hours, it took months for the din to settle. Modi?s acts of omission were more than obvious. His permitting the procession of dead of Godhra tragedy in the lanes of Ahamadabad, violating all the norms of prevention and control of riot situation are too well documented by now. Now as matters stand our legal system has lots of loopholes and most of the guilty are not punished. On the contrary, in the case of Gujarat, Modi ?succeeded? in splitting the Gujarat society along religious lines, and he took advantage of the communal divide by riding back to power and strengthened his vice like grip on the administration and state as a whole. And now, In Gujarat the matters are not seen as guilty versus innocents, they are seen as Hindu versus Muslim.
While on one hand Modi is being projected as the future Prime minister of India, not only by many captains of industry but also by the party sustaining on the fodder of communal divide, the BJP. While most of the people with plural values and concern for national integration are welcoming the direction of Apex court, the others doing electoral calculations point out that this investigation will enhance the standing of Modi. BJP spokesman also pointed out that this direction of Apex court will be helpful to the BJP in electoral arena. The nation is standing on a tragic point where the communal polarization brought in by communal violence and anti-minority propaganda has resulted in the loss of sensitivity of a section of society towards the miseries and travails of large part of our own country, our own nation.
In response to court directive, Modi asserted that he is ready to go to jail. This assertion is the outcome of his knowledge that in the polarzed state he will benefit despite his criminal acts. The observation so far has been that Modi has shown no remorse for what happened in Gujarat, forget apologizing for the same. The path to power for the practitioners of divisive politics is through the rivers of blood, and they know it.
So should we press for justice or fall in the trap of electoral arithmetic? The point is if we loose our basic human morality, if we compromise on the issue of rule of law, what is the worth of values of Constitution? Tragedy is not that the nation is knowing the guilt of the ilk of Modi and is watching helplessly, the tragedy is that our justice delivery system has been eroded from bottom upwards, where justice is sacrificed at the drop of a hat. The communal mind set cultivated by divisive politics, the large section of state machinery being guided by considerations other than the values of constitution is a matter of deep concern.
It is because of this total communalization of state apparatus that the Supreme Court had to reprimand Modi, time and over again. It is because of this that the major cases were shifted out from Gujarat. It is the same place where Zahira Sheikh changed her versions times and over again, lured by the lucre offered to her by BJP workers.
Modi bloating his chest while sitting over the corpses of thousands, is a symptom of deeper rot which has set in the society. By now first the cases are not investigated properly due to communal considerations, then when the reports nail the culprits, many of them are not touched for political considerations. Rather than having remorse and anguish on what happened to say that this Apex court direction will benefit BJP, is the most immoral and base statement which only heartless inhuman characters can make.
A heavy responsibility lies on SIT to cull the truth out, to ensure that the rule of justice and law prevails, in the communalized state apparatus in Gujarat. One hopes the victims of Gujarat will get justice, and the process of restoration of their civic and political rights begins in right earnest.